Dayo Laoye + J. Johari Palacio

March 25 - June 10, 2016
Opening Reception: Friday, March 25, ​6–8pm

Doors have served a symbolic purpose across cultures throughout history. In religion and mythology, they have been used as emblems of transition, new beginnings, welcomed endings, or the passage from one world to another. The functional purpose of doors— to serve as entry points or barriers to a space— alludes to ideas of access, privacy, control, and protection. To acknowledge the literal and figurative ways in which these portals play a role in our everyday lives, the spring edition of our Flex Exhibition series focuses on doors and all of their functions through the work of Dayo Laoye and J. Johari Palacio.

Arts + Public Life's Flex Exhibitions are a series of spotlights featuring emerging and mid-career artists in Washington Park and surrounding neighborhoods on Chicago's mid-South Side.


Dayo Laoye is a Nigeria-born artist who has spent the past two decades making work on the South Side of Chicago. His work is the result of an ongoing investigation into the ways in which African cultures and traditions manifest in the Americas. In the 1990s, Laoye took these ideas and applied them to discarded doors that he found and reclaimed from rehabilitated buildings in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood. He began painting doors to simultaneously represent the Orisas of his Yoruba heritage as well as Afro-Caribbean Santeria and Brazilian Candomble deities. In Laoye's vision, this series of doors, titled ILEKUN, are tributes to the Orisas and echo exactly what Orisa deities represent— the passage, the protectors, and the mediators.

J. Johari Palacio, the child of first-generation Belizean immigrants, started painting while growing up within the 1980s street art scene in Los Angeles. Over time, his practice has evolved to include collage, sound/music, video, photography, and creative nonfiction. Palacio often moves between and combines these forms as a way of reflecting on and probing his personal experiences as well as the poetics and underpinnings of human relationships within urban landscapes. For the series The Commute, Palacio uses doors as his canvas to continue his meditation on lived experiences, while harnessing and building upon the residual energy and history imbued in doors through the individuals, families, and communities that used them.

About Exhibitions at the Arts Incubator

The exhibitions program at the Arts Incubator offers a platform for Chicago-based artists to thoughtfully engage with the global, contemporary art world in a localized environment. The unique positioning of this program acts as a catalyst for collaboration and exchange, creating a dynamic and critical space. Exhibitions are realized throughout the entirety of the building and the surrounding Washington Park area, fusing temporal, public space with the dedicated interior. This coupling is echoed with the public programming efforts, as we introduce the work of national artists to the local conversation.


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Chicago, IL 60637

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